I just hate to warm up.
Raring to go, feeling (just feeling, mind you), like Stallone with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or with ‘She’s got the Power’ playing in my head, I like diving straight into adrenalin pumping workouts, not wanting to move my arms and legs aimlessly.
In fact, most of my students share my dislike for these peripherals and I too would like to dispense with warm up sessions, but then I am the teacher. The burden of the role is that I have to do it right.
So. Why do we really waste somewhat significant time on a warm up especially for aerobic workouts such as marathon running? Why can’t we just get up and run? And if you are coerced to do a warm up, what should it entail and how much time should one spend on it?
ACE (American Council On Exercise) says “A warm up immediately prior to activity provides the body with a period of adjustment from rest to exercise and should be designed to improve performance and decrease the chance of injury by preparing the individual mentally and physically for activity”. Meaning? It is imperative to increase the temperature of the muscles achieved by increasing the body’s core temperature. A warm up must also increase the heart rate, respiratory rate thereby increasing blood flow, and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles in action. Muscles, joints and tendons become active and supple and resistant to injury.
That begs the question “What should the warm up program comprise?”
My warm up program always activates the muscle groups and joint mobility of areas that will be used in the ensuing workout. The warm up moves imitate and rehearse the workout to come in a preliminary manner so as to ‘wake-up’ the muscles that will be recruited.
Which are the muscles and joints used for running?
To understand this, simply imagine yourself running.
You flex your knee by moving your lower leg towards your butt and then you extend your knee by bringing the lower leg back to a straight position. The hamstrings, the muscles at the back of your thighs, perform knee flexion. The quadriceps, which are the muscles at the front of your thighs, perform knee extension.
You also flex and extend your hips while running. It is your butt muscles, the gluteals that perform this action. Hip flexors bring your thighs towards your stomach. These muscles are located at the front of the hips, originating at the top of your pelvis and sides of your spine. You use your core, that is your back and abdominal muscles to stabilize the entire body and therefore are key to running.
Lastly, you use your shins sides of the shins and the calves located in the lower legs to run. That would be the lower body.
Then there are the arms that are used to balance and pick momentum, the chest that heaves up and down and expands to support the lungs and the shoulder girdle muscles that hold the top of the body in place. So broadly, nothing really remains static or unused! How great is that?!
Going back to the warm up then, you would have to recruit all muscles to enable you to run without injury.
How do you warm up for running a marathon?
Combine light jogging on the spot with dynamic stretching exercises of muscles and joints that you will be using in your run to warm up.
Dynamic stretching is a controlled, swinging motion or soft bounce to force a particular body part and muscle past its usual range of movement.
But remember not to warm up more than 5-10 minutes.
Do not reach a sweat; or tire yourself; just raise your body temperature a tad. You have a long run ahead of you. If you do a rigorous warm up, you will begin to consume the stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles and then have none left to fuel your run!
The ObiNo RunFit Series will address specific Fitness issues relevant to running a marathon. In my next blog, get ready to learn how to Cool-down! Please note that this Series is also featured on www.procamrunning.in with the explicit permission of ObiNo & the Author.